Security BlackBerry CEO defends decision to help Canadian police access phone messages

midian182

Posts: 5,776   +46
Staff member

While many in the tech industry supported Apple’s refusal to comply with the FBI’s request for help in unlocking the San Bernardino iPhone, not every company is against aiding authorities. Surprisingly, one of these firms is BlackBerry, an organization that is known for its focus on security and privacy.

Thanks to an investigation by Motherboard/Vice last week, it was revealed that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) was able to intercept and decrypt over one million non-corporate BlackBerry messages between 2010 and 2012 as part of an investigation into a mafia slaying.

In his response to the report, BlackBerry CEO John Chen mentioned cooperating with authorities, but he didn’t explicitly say if the company handed over an encryption key to the RCMP. “We have long been clear in our stance that tech companies as good corporate citizens should comply with reasonable lawful access requests,” the CEO wrote in a blog post.

This very belief was put to the test in an old case that recently resurfaced in the news, which speculated on and challenged BlackBerry’s corporate and ethical principles. In the end, the case resulted in a major criminal organization being dismantled. Regarding BlackBerry’s assistance, I can reaffirm that we stood by our lawful access principles.

Additionally, Chen seemed to question Apple’s approach when it came to handing out backdoor keys. “We are indeed in a dark place when companies put their reputations above the greater good,” he added.

Chen pointed out that messages sent from corporate BlackBerry phones cannot be decrypted as they are connected to the BlackBerry Enterprise Server, which is “impenetrable” and the reason why the company is “e gold standard in government and enterprise-grade security.”

BlackBerry didn’t say if the authorities are still able to intercept and unencrypt messages using the backdoor key. The company may have refused to give Pakistan access to its servers, but many BlackBerry users are unhappy with these latest revelations.

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ikesmasher

Posts: 3,051   +1,373
If all he sees in apple's argument is concern over reputation and not the greater good...no wonder blackberry is failing with someone with that mindset in charge.
 
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psycros

Posts: 3,131   +3,240
How can BES be "impenetrable" when it has back doors?? John Chen just put the final nail in Blackberry's coffin.
 

ikesmasher

Posts: 3,051   +1,373
How can BES be "impenetrable" when it has back doors?? John Chen just put the final nail in Blackberry's coffin.
Honestly the blackberry android phones actually seemed interesting to me and was actually considering one for my next phone,
But after this no way I'm supporting that..
 

m4a4

Posts: 1,812   +1,542
TechSpot Elite
If all he sees in apple's argument is concern over reputation and not the greater good...no wonder blackberry is failing with someone with that mindset in charge.
Apple refused to unlock a dead terrorist's phone under a legal warrant. For what? Some press that they were taking security "seriously".
Yeah, BB is the one with the wrong mindset /endSarcasm
 

Darth Shiv

Posts: 2,043   +625
If all he sees in apple's argument is concern over reputation and not the greater good...no wonder blackberry is failing with someone with that mindset in charge.
Apple refused to unlock a dead terrorist's phone under a legal warrant. For what? Some press that they were taking security "seriously".
Yeah, BB is the one with the wrong mindset /endSarcasm
No Apple was refusing to create a master key. A security flaw that can then be used to compromise any iPhone for any reason. There is no way for them to create code that can only break into one phone and for that code to not be useful for breaking into others.
 

ikesmasher

Posts: 3,051   +1,373
Apple refused to unlock a dead terrorist's phone under a legal warrant. For what? Some press that they were taking security "seriously".
Yeah, BB is the one with the wrong mindset /endSarcasm
Instead of looking at the specific case, you should probably think longer term. Precedent can be built upon and used for hundreds of years.
 

m4a4

Posts: 1,812   +1,542
TechSpot Elite
Instead of looking at the specific case, you should probably think longer term. Precedent can be built upon and used for hundreds of years.
No Apple was refusing to create a master key. A security flaw that can then be used to compromise any iPhone for any reason. There is no way for them to create code that can only break into one phone and for that code to not be useful for breaking into others.
Yes they also refused to create a backdoor for them. But for the warrant, they could've got the info from it to them in-house without creating that.
 

Darth Shiv

Posts: 2,043   +625
Yes they also refused to create a backdoor for them. But for the warrant, they could've got the info from it to them in-house without creating that.
They don't want to take the risk that millions of other users are compromised by the code being created.
 

Darth Shiv

Posts: 2,043   +625
If Apple is competent enough, they wouldn't need to "worry" about that. I still see it as a PR thing since they aren't really seen as a secure platform...
Until the FBI found the 3rd party, they thought differently though. Regardless of what you think of Apple...
 

thorpj

Posts: 98   +27
They don't want to take the risk that millions of other users are compromised by the code being created.
If Apple is competent enough, they wouldn't need to "worry" about that. I still see it as a PR thing since they aren't really seen as a secure platform...
Apple's competency wouldn't have been the problem. Did you follow the case at all? Did you happen to hear any of the ignorant rubbish that we heard from the FBI?

If Apple got some good press out of this, then that's great for them. But don't be so naive. There's a bigger picture. If Apple created a version of the OS with a backdoor, and then as this OS is transferred to the FBI (or whoever on that side), just think of all the possible points of failure. I'll just consider the people. Can you imagine what black hat hackers would be doing to get ahold of this OS?

Okay, let's say nothing went wrong, they unlocked the iPhone, and no one stole the OS. Well that OS now exists, the FBI probably wouldn't let Apple delete it (or they would keep a copy, and pretend that it's been deleted).

Okay, let's say it was deleted. What about next time. See the case would've set a precedent, so that next time the FBI asks to access an iPhone, it wouldn't be nearly as difficult to win the case against Apple (or something like that, however law works...). So they get a copy of that OS again (which Apple would have to recreate, if it was really deleted), and we repeat the process, again and again and again.

Do you honestly think nothing is going to go wrong there?

This isn't, "Apple is helping the terrorists". If you think that, you're extremely blind. Perhaps you should stop staring at the sun. Just because you got to the moon, doesn't mean you can get to the sun.
 
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m4a4

Posts: 1,812   +1,542
TechSpot Elite
Until the FBI found the 3rd party, they thought differently though. Regardless of what you think of Apple...
They wanted a quick way to get what data was on the device (and requested it legally). When Apple decided to pull a PR stunt about that, they went to another party and easily got the data. So yeah, still don't think very highly of their move, besides the refusing to create a backdoor.
Apple's competency wouldn't have been the problem. Did you follow the case at all? Did you happen to hear any of the ignorant rubbish that we heard from the FBI?
That's great! My main point was that they could've unlocked in house without all the hassle (or at least made an attempt to), not that they could create said backdoor for them. I'm glad that Apple decided against making a backdoor for them to get into all iOS devices, but when they made that the PR move without unlocking the phone, that's when I take issue. Heck, it was a dead terrorist's phone. No data protection rights owed.
 

cliffordcooley

Posts: 12,339   +5,732
The PR stunt (your words) you are talking about wouldn't have worked, if it was something the people didn't care about. The PR stunt you talk about is what keeps the FBI walking a straight lawful line. You see the PR stunt as a negative, I don't.
 

thorpj

Posts: 98   +27
They wanted a quick way to get what data was on the device (and requested it legally). When Apple decided to pull a PR stunt about that, they went to another party and easily got the data. So yeah, still don't think very highly of their move, besides the refusing to create a backdoor.
I don't have a source for this, but I recall that the method most likely used by the third party was mentioned in the early days of the lawsuit, but was dismissed by either the FBI or "tech experts" as too risky.

I can't fathom how you still think this is merely a PR stunt, when I've clearly shown you it's far more than that.

That's great! My main point was that they could've unlocked in house without all the hassle (or at least made an attempt to), not that they could create said backdoor for them. I'm glad that Apple decided against making a backdoor for them to get into all iOS devices, but when they made that the PR move without unlocking the phone, that's when I take issue. Heck, it was a dead terrorist's phone. No data protection rights owed.
In the lawsuit the FBI told them exactly how they wanted access (a backdoor). Perhaps Apple could've used the same method as the third party, but if Apple happened to cause for the data on the phone to be lost, that would cause all kinds of trouble.

This was never about the privacy of a terrorist. No one cares about his privacy, for good reason.
 

m4a4

Posts: 1,812   +1,542
TechSpot Elite
In the lawsuit the FBI told them exactly how they wanted access (a backdoor). Perhaps Apple could've used the same method as the third party, but if Apple happened to cause for the data on the phone to be lost, that would cause all kinds of trouble.

This was never about the privacy of a terrorist. No one cares about his privacy, for good reason.
Again, that's great! They also wanted a back door, I get that. Really! I think Bill Gates got to the point I was making, but I don't care anymore.
 

thorpj

Posts: 98   +27
Again, that's great! They also wanted a back door, I get that. Really! I think Bill Gates got to the point I was making, but I don't care anymore.
No I'm quite confident that priority number one was a backdoor.
 

Lionvibez

Posts: 1,838   +1,067
How can BES be "impenetrable" when it has back doors?? John Chen just put the final nail in Blackberry's coffin.
BES is secured.

This is for consumer phones not behind a bes server!

So on a company Bes server they would need a court order.

For a consumer phone they already have the key they don't need anything.

And this story is old and based Blackberrys before BB10 devices came out not sure why it got so much attention.
 

R3DP3NGUIN

Posts: 156   +13
The Berries are a massive waste of time now (biased opinion, but who cares) . More governments are starting move towards Silent Circle's products (BlackPhone .etc).
 

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